Dublin company unveils ‘mechanical tree’ for capturing CO2

19 Apr 2022

Image: © Sundry Photography/Stock.adobe.com

Carbon Collect is working with the US Department of Energy and Arizona State University to develop engineering blueprints for carbon farms in the US.

Dublin-based company Carbon Collect has unveiled its first commercial-scale ‘mechanical tree’ designed to capture CO2 from the atmosphere.

Carbon Collect said its MechanicalTree device is up to 1,000 times more efficient than a natural tree at removing CO2 from the air. Following a two-year design and engineering programme, the company unveiled its MechanicalTree this week at Arizona State University (ASU) in the US.

The device was developed with research from ASU’s Prof Klaus Lackner, who said the MechanicalTree can bring CO2 out of the air to either be buried or used in industrial gas.

Unlike other direct capture technologies, Carbon Collect said its mechanical device doesn’t require fans as it uses natural wind to deliver air through the system. The company said this will make it a passive, lower-cost way to capture CO2 when compared to other methods.

Carbon Collect's MechanicalTree at Arizona State University

Carbon Collect’s MechanicalTree at Arizona State University. Image: Carbon Collect

“We believe we have developed a real and scalable solution to combat the effects of CO2,” Carbon Collect vice-chair Reyad Fezzani said. “Our goal now will be to accelerate the global climate effort and to contribute to reversing carbon emissions over the next decade and beyond.”

The MechanicalTree at ASU rises to a height of 10 metres, with a stack of discs that collect carbon from the air and then retract into the base unit to give up the captured carbon. This can be sold for reuse in industries such as food and beverage, agriculture and energy.

The Irish company is behind one of a number of projects that received US Department of Energy funding last year in an initiative targeting carbon capture and sequestration technologies. The Carbon Collect and ASU team received $2.5m to design three ‘carbon farms’ using a commercial-scale direct air capture system that could capture 1,000 tonnes of CO2 per day.

Carbon Collect is currently working with the ASU and the US Department of Energy to develop engineering blueprints for such carbon farms in the US.

“Our passive process is the evolution of carbon capture technology, which has the ability to be both economically and technologically viable at scale in a reasonably short time frame,” Carbon Collect CEO Pól Ó Móráin said.

Earlier this month, Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify, Meta and McKinsey Sustainability launched an advance market commitment to accelerate the development of permanent carbon removal tech. These companies have committed an initial $925m over the next nine years to purchase carbon removal from suppliers developing and scaling new technologies.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic